The Null Device

Atheist buses in America

The American Humanist Association has taken a leaf from its British counterpart and run its own atheist bus campaign in Washington DC. Being in America, the message was somewhat milder; rather than telling people that "there is probably no god", it asked "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake." Of course, as one might expect, it still aroused an explosive reaction:
It's a simple question: "Why not try Jesus?" Equally simple is an opposite: "Why believe in a god?" Yet in the United States the first question is widely viewed as positive, or at least ordinary, while the second can be perceived as offensive and even hate speech.
The sudden high volume of visitors to our special campaign website crashed our server twice. Soon, the conservative talkshow hosts were clamouring to give us air time so they could argue against us and further rouse their audience. And conservative Christian organisations not only denounced our efforts but encouraged their flocks to come bleat in our ears. All this before our bus ads actually started to appear one week later. By the beginning of December we'd received 37,742 hits on our campaign website, logged 638 new members and received over $6,000 in new contributions.

There are 4 comments on "Atheist buses in America":

Posted by: Greg Fri Dec 12 02:48:37 2008

I'm going to stick my neck out and predict that we are witnessing the beginning of the final fizzling-out of religion in the USA. It's true, religion is far more "in your face" there than in other Western countries. But I sense it is a flimsy facade, and like religion in Australia in the 70s before it basically disappeared from view. Most people are half-heartedly going alonw with the crowd, to avoid the kind of hassle described above. A few public announcements by sensible middle-class atheists who don't appear to be trying to smash the state - like these bus ads - and critical mass could easily tip toward atheism or agnosticism a la the rest of the West. Something rather like this happened politically in the US this year.

Posted by: acb Fri Dec 12 09:53:53 2008

I'll believe it when I see it.

Have you read Joe Bageant's "Deer Hunting With Jesus"? It's an excellent look inside the highly religious, socially conservative culture of the "red states", by a son of that culture who moved to California in his teens and back some four decades later. The point being, religion there isn't a facade put on by otherwise modern secular people, but a deeply ingrained part of the culture which isn't going to fade into the background overnight.

Posted by: kstop Fri Dec 12 17:59:07 2008

"By the beginning of December we'd received 37,742 hits on our campaign website"

That's so precious.

Posted by: Greg Sat Dec 13 21:35:55 2008

in today's Age . VICTORIAN state primary school students will soon have an alternative — religious education lessons taught by people who do not believe in God and say there is "no evidence of any supernatural power".

The Humanist Society of Victoria has developed a curriculum, which the State Government accreditation body says it intends to approve, to deliver 30-minute lessons each week of "humanist applied ethics" to primary pupils.

Accredited volunteers will be able to teach their philosophy in the class time designated for religious instruction. As with lessons delivered by faith groups, parents will be able to request that their children do not participate.


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